Jungian Notions Surface on the Screen

A GoodTherapy.org News Update

Carl Jung, one of psychology’s brightest and best known–and certainly influential–figures, has long inspired the establishment of new therapies and ideas within the realm of mental health. From clinically-applicable research and development to significant influence in the healing work of thousands upon thousands of psychotherapists, Jung’s prolific and structured ideas have helped to shape the modern face of psychotherapy. But as many actors are finding out, Jung’s theories about the nature and meaning of human dreaming can transcend the textbook and become a powerful tool for method acting.

Dreamwork, which is described as a particular offshoot of method acting, has been taking the players of the stage and screen to astonishing depths in terms of discovering their roles, and the trend is rapidly growing. Jungian ideas about the dream as an expression of the unconscious, transmitting figures and symbols to the conscious mind for consideration, have been the subjects of scholarship and in-office treatment for a long time, but are only beginning to inspire a larger creative audience. Utilizing Jung’s theories about the role of dreams, actors seek to gain new insights about their characters while they snooze, stepping into their roles as they drift off in the hope that the unconscious mind will provide new clues about a character’s deepest thoughts and feelings.

The practice serves as the focal point for a growing number of actors’ workshops and seminars, and has been attracting big names from television and cinema, including performers Harvey Keitel and Kate Walsh. Of course, while dreamwork may be an actor’s asset, it remains a popular and often lauded technique in the private dramas of psychotherapy sessions, where clients can explore the depths of their minds to shed new light on overt issues.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Carletta


    May 12th, 2009 at 1:54 AM

    I love anything that has to do with dreams and used to keep a dream journal. I do believe dreams can sometimes mean something whether it’s just to relieve stress while you sleep or something more.

  • Lila


    May 12th, 2009 at 2:53 AM

    I think it would be neat to visit a seminar on dreams. I have always wanted to know how to interpret them

  • Grace


    May 12th, 2009 at 3:34 AM

    Surely you mean serious theater actors only? I can hardly see so many of the more shallow actors today embracing this.

  • Angie W

    Angie W

    May 14th, 2009 at 2:24 AM

    Now Grace surely you are not saying that so many of those overpaid Hollywood types are not serious actors?, she said sarcastically.

  • Belinda


    May 14th, 2009 at 3:00 AM

    I have heard of Jung, but never really read his work. I would love to know more about Jung’s work. Thanks for the article.

  • Sally


    May 19th, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    Getting into the role of acting by dreaming and acting out on these dreams seems interesting. I guess actors have to get into the role some way or another.

  • Bella


    May 19th, 2009 at 2:03 AM

    I’m interested in knowing what all actors follows the Jungian ideas

  • Connie


    May 21st, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    So do they actually practice these ideas and dream on them. Just how about do they go about using these ideas in their acting?

  • Kiera


    May 26th, 2009 at 3:04 AM

    I decided my career path based on a dream. I think remembering a dream and the graphic details of it is a gift. I’ve always felt that our emotions that we choose to bury in our everyday moments surface when we dream.

  • Alexis


    May 26th, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    This sounds more like script writers. Sometimes I’ve wondered why some horror movies have such vague, distorted sequences. Wonder if it has anything to do with this.

  • William


    May 30th, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    It’s interesting to note. Any websites with info on Jungian notions? Any suggested books on this topic?

  • Gayla


    June 22nd, 2009 at 2:42 PM

    I agree with Kiera. I used to have a dream analysis book, but unfortunatley a friend took off with it. Now I have one by Sylvia Browne and a lot of stuff in it makes sense. I would still love to read some of jung’s work.

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